Developing a Mobile, Service-Based Augmented Reality Tool for Modern Maintenance Work

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1 Developing a Mobile, Service-Based Augmented Reality Tool for Modern Maintenance Work Paula Savioja, Paula Järvinen, Tommi Karhela, Pekka Siltanen, and Charles Woodward VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, P.O. Box 1000, FI VTT, Finland Abstract. In the VTT PLAMOS (Plant Model Services for Mobile Process Maintenance Engineer) project new tools were developed for modern maintenance work carried out in industrial plants by either the plant personnel or personnel of an industrial service provider. To formulate the requirements for new tools the work of a maintenance man was studied with a particular method, the Core-Task Analysis which has its roots in study and development of work in complex settings. The aim was to develop and create concepts for novel tools that would support the development of good work practices in a situation where the work is concurrently undergoing several transformations. Hence, the new tools should have potential to enable and affect new ways of working. 1 Introduction Maintenance of an industrial plant is work that strives for keeping the process equipment within the plant in a condition that is required to reach the production goals. The process equipment consists of all the physical equipment within the plant, such as pumps, pipes, and tanks. The professional maintenance both installs and repairs the equipment so that it functions in the intended way. Increasing complexity of industrial plants lays growing demands on the operating personnel who take care of the plants. Advanced technology is used to access information related to the equipment maintained. Even though current maintenance and automation systems enable storage and browsing of equipment and process related data, the systems do not solve many of the common problems the maintenance personnel are facing, e.g.: How to locate the equipment needing maintenance? How to get intuitive and easily understood information about the plant floor equipment and their state? How to combine data from several sources without accessing many different applications with different user interfaces? The problems are expected to become even more difficult in the future as changes also take place in the business environment. Traditionally the lifecycle management of an industrial facility, such as a process plant, has been divided between three main groups of players: owners/operators of the plant, system/component providers, and R. Shumaker (Ed.): Virtual Reality, HCII 2007, LNCS 4563, pp , Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

2 Developing a Mobile, Service-Based Augmented Reality Tool 555 engineering consultants. However, since owners/operators are increasingly outsourcing parts of their operations, new business opportunities occur for industrial service providers. While the change creates new business opportunities, it also creates new demands for software applications. The challenges are related to the application interoperability, as well as human system interfaces. Traditionally the maintenance workers have worked for years in the same plant, knowing the process and equipments almost by heart. While the machinery becomes increasingly complicated and maintenance is outsourced or carried out with a smaller amount of on-site maintenance personnel, the need for intuitive user interfaces for locating the equipments and viewing the product and process information is increasing. Huge amounts of data created and maintained during the plant lifecycle is currently stored in diverse databases, which has non-standard interfaces for user interaction and information exchange. There is an increasing need to be able to use the information through unified, standardized interfaces, regardless of what application the information is stored in. The companies providing outsourced services can serve several plants that are owned and operated by different owner/operators. However, the outsourcing leads to true benefit only if the service company is capable of utilizing information from all the repositories via standard interfaces. Currently, there are ongoing industrial efforts (Mimosa 2006, OPC 2006) that aim at standardization of how the plant lifecycle information will be expressed in different contexts. This information model (also known as plant model) will form a basis for application interoperability in the industry, provided that services based on the model are specified simultaneously with the plant model standardization. The aim of the Plamos project was to create new tools for maintenance work which would promote the development of good work practices in the partly transforming context of the work. In order to understand the requirements for the new tools it is essential to understand the practice in which the tool will be used. 2 The Research Approach and Process In the Plamos project the technology development was approached from two different perspectives: Agile prototyping and human-centred design. The two approaches were used simultaneously and the processes kept each other informed by conducting project meetings in which findings were discussed. In order to select the suitable technologies to be used in the tool development a few feasibility assessments were conducted. The technical feasibility studies were: Augmented reality where the user views real-time video of the machinery in the plant, and the information of the target object is augmented to the live video stream. On-line simulation, where the user sees calculated variables from the process based on measurements from the control system. The simulation results are shown to the user in the augmented reality view.

3 556 P. Savioja et al. Plant model -based information management where information from various sources is presented to the user in a uniform view. Information gathering is based on a plant model which is a conceptual, semantic model that describes the plant structures as well as the functions of the process and automation. It contains the plant information commonly represented in various different documents. WLAN positioning where the user gets position information in real time. The information was presented to the user with a floor plan of a building. A handheld small size tablet PC, equipped with a video camera was selected to be used in the development process. All the above mentioned technology studies were conducted using the tablet PC. The small screen size of the tablet PC introduced some extra challenges for the user interface design. But the size of the device was considered to be small enough for the mobile maintenance engineer to carry along during routine job. Another branch of research started a human-centred design process (ISO 13407:1999) the aim of which was to ensure the usability of the solutions being developed. The objective in the preliminary phases of the research was to understand the changes taking place in the context of maintenance work and with that knowledge generate functional requirements for the novel work tools. The method used the user study was Core-Task Analysis (CTA). CTA is a work analysis method developed to study different kinds of work taking place in complex, dynamic, and uncertain environments (Norros 2004). It aims to identify the core task of a particular work; the essence of the activity which stays the same from situation to situation independently e.g. of the organisation of the work and the specific tools being used. CTA also studies the work practices that produce good results i.e. practices that promote reaching the objectives of work in varying conditions. In the Plamos project CTA was carried out by conducting interviews and workshops. Altogether 15 maintenance engineers from three different companies were interviewed with semi-structured interviews concerning their work, its organization, current tools, changes having taken place etc. Management and strategic level management personnel participated in a workshop concerning the objectives of different stakeholders in maintenance work. Models of maintenance activity and the changes taking place in the business environment w were produced in the workshops. After the technical feasibility studies and the analysis of the core task the work continued as a software development process. Figure 1 outlines the phases of the development process. The outputs of the CTA were transformed to requirements for an information system including use case scenarios, system functions and a data model. The user interface prototype was designed based on the requirements and priorities of the user needs. In the design phase the interfaces to the different components of the system were planned including the process and simulation systems, data storages and the augmented videos. Finally, the system was implemented with Java in the Eclipse platform (a vendor-neutral open development platform by the Eclipse Foundation (Eclipse 2006)).

4 Developing a Mobile, Service-Based Augmented Reality Tool 557 Fig. 1. The Plamos development process 3 Results In the project a concept for a new tool and an interactive prototype were developed based on the understanding of maintenance work that was acquired through analysis of the core task. 3.1 The Requirements from Analysing the Core Task The core-task analysis aims at identifying what are the objectives of a given work that do not depend on the particular organisation of the work. In addition, in core-task analysis the means to achieve the objectives are identified. In this project we tried to use this knowledge to derive requirements for a new work instrument for maintenance work. The objectives (core task) of maintenance work were discussed in both the interviews of the employers and in the management workshops. There were varying conceptions of what should be considered the objective in maintenance. In the following we have adopted broadest possible conception including all the aspects of the objectives that came up in data collection. The objectives in industrial maintenance are: 1. Availability of the maintained process 2. Quality of the end product 3. Safety of the plant and of the plant personnel 4. Life-cycle management of the plant 5. Development of the production process 6. Cost efficiency of maintenance These objectives were broken down into means to reach them. Most of the means relate to repair of failed equipment, anticipation of equipment failure, and reaction to

5 558 P. Savioja et al. equipment failure (see also Reiman & Oedewald 2004). Next, the different means were analysed and transformed into requirements for the new tools (Table 1). Table 1. Deriving requirements with the core task approach. Only the requirements related to employers tools are presented. Objective Means to achieve Requirements for an employer s tool what should the tool do? Availability of the maintained process Cost efficiency in maintenance Quality of the end product Safety of the plant and of the plant personnel Life-cycle management of the plant Development of the production process Efficient repair shortening the down time Acquiring process knowledge Acquiring equipment knowledge Calibration of the equipment Optimizing the whole Maintaining appropriate culture Anticipation of equipment failures (analysis of process data) Maintaining in advance Optimising repair Acquiring/maintaining process knowledge Calibration of the equipment Planning the maintenance Appropriate work culture Planning the maintenance proc- Acquiring/maintaining ess knowledge 3.2 The Concept for a New Tool Locate the equipment Increase understanding of the process Help in the use of manuals in the field Analyse of process data Organise the work in tasks Create task order Increase understanding of the process Help in the use of manuals in the field Report problems and equipment failures Provide safety information and manuals Organising the work in tasks and task order Increase understanding of the process The interaction concept of the new tool was inspired by the analysis of current practice of maintenance work. Modern maintenance work is conducted by either plant personnel or a separate service provider. Independent of the organisation, the work

6 Developing a Mobile, Service-Based Augmented Reality Tool 559 area typically consists of the whole plant. The maintenance men move around and carry the equipment with them. They need as much information as possible on hand all the time since the situations in which the information is needed are often unexpected and emergent. Thus the concept of a mobile device providing access to different kinds of data was developed. The device uses augmented reality techniques that help personnel e.g. in locating and identifying equipment and providing additional information. The features presented below help carrying out work at unfamiliar plant sites and also help in working more efficiently. 3.3 The Prototype For the prototype we first identified the users of the mobile tool and sketched three use case scenarios. The users and scenarios were formed based on the results of the core-task analysis and workshops with the company representatives. The identified user groups were maintenance engineers, operating personnel, design and assembly engineers, and new employees. Three different usage scenarios were developed as follows: 1. Assembly of new equipment. The assembly engineer is not familiar with the site and the main problems are how to find the right position for the equipment and how the final equipment will show up at the site. In this scenario the use of augmented reality is most feasible. 2. Maintenance of the process. An operation engineer notices an exception in the process and goes on-site to see what s going on. He/she gets process and simulation data to the mobile device and can monitor and trend the process variables onsite with the mobile terminal. 3. Repair. A maintenance engineer gets each day a list of 1-10 tasks including failures, repairs and maintenance tasks. To be able to carry out the tasks the engineer needs information from several sources: fault and correction history, maintenance manuals, safety instructions, the availability of spare parts, manuals from the component manufacturers etc. The data is typically located in different heterogeneous systems. The mobile Plamos-tool will deliver the information with one uniform interface to the user on-site. The user can also update the status of the repair task. The analysis of the use case scenarios produced the prototype (Figure 2). We ended up in a solution where the same user interface serves all user groups. It turned out that each user group had overlapping data needs and building own separate interfaces for each use case was not reasonable. We organised the user interface according to the data contents instead of user functions. The user interface is divided into different views that the user can browse. The views are Tasks, Equipment, Augmented reality and Failure notice. In the Tasks view (Figure 3) the user gets a list of the tasks for each day and sees the necessary details to do the job: the equipment involved, the task description, the contact persons etc. The user makes the report of the completed task using the same view.

7 560 P. Savioja et al. Fig. 2. Plamos prototype (the main page). The different views can be accessed through the tabs on top of the screen. Fig. 3. The task view. The tasks are presented as a scroll list in the upper window. In the lower part of the screen there is additional task related information, for example the specific equipment that the task is related to. The Equipment can be located by selecting the task and then the AR view.

8 Developing a Mobile, Service-Based Augmented Reality Tool 561 Fig. 4. The augmented reality (AR) view of the prototype. The identification of the object is carried out with black and white 2-dimensional matrix. Other possibilities for identification were also tested. The Augmented reality view shows the augmented scene of the identified object (Figure 4). In the view information from the plant databases and the automation system is combined and presented to the user by augmenting it in the real-time video stream. The information is always presented on top of the equivalent equipment so that it is intuitively combined with the right part of the process. Fig. 5. The equipment view of the Plamos prototype. In this view data from many sources is combined.

9 562 P. Savioja et al. In the Equipment view (Figure 5) the user can browse the function and equipment hierarchy and get information about the system or sub system: The fault history, the spare parts, technical data, assembly manual, instructions for use, maintenance manuals, safety instructions, failure identification manuals, and diagrams of the system. The Failure report view (Figure 6) is meant for reporting the failures the maintenance and operation personnel detects during their daily work. The notices will be collected into data storage and they will be used as source data for planning the maintenance work. The user can navigate to the failure report view from the AR-view, in which he has identified the object to report on. In this case the report form will be prefilled with the equipment information. Fig. 6. The failure report view 4 Discussion Our original task was to use advanced technology to help the maintenance and operating personnel in the growing demands they are facing. The main questions were: How to locate the equipment needing maintenance? How to get intuitive and easily understood information about the plant floor equipment and their state? How to combine data from several sources without accessing many different applications with different user interfaces? The use of core-task approach in the work analysis turned out to be a very good starting point for the system development. The outputs of the CTA formed an excellent basis for the software requirements. Instead of the typical situation where the requirements analysis starts with a more or less advanced guesses of the user needs we had fresh and analyzed information of the users tasks and needs in our hands. The data modelling, use case planning, and the design of the user interface were straightforward. We believe that we succeeded in creating a prototype that meets the user

10 Developing a Mobile, Service-Based Augmented Reality Tool 563 needs very well. Also the augmented reality turned out to be a natural interface for delivering equipment information to users. The locating of the equipment and the augmented reality were tested in an experimental industrial environment. Experiments were made both with tracking objects using matrix codes and markerless tracking using WLAN positioning. The matrix code tracking worked well and the user got process and simulation data of the identified object on an augmented reality view. Our goal to locate the equipment and get intuitive and easily understood information was well achieved. The markerless tracking was not equally successful due to the immaturity of WLAN technology of in-door positioning. For the same reason we had to leave out the guidance of the employee to the object device from our concept. We could not get accurate enough information of the user s location in the building. We believe that this feature is possible to implement in the near future when the accuracy of the WLAN positioning is improved or alternative positioning mechanisms emerge. Our third goal, to combine data from several sources was achieved by using standard interfaces such as MIMOSA OpenO&M and OPC Unified Architecture. The final usability tests with real users will be done in the applied research phase of the project. A group of industrial partners will test the tool in real industry environments. The tool development continues in co-operation with the partners aiming at the commercialisation of the tool. Some new ideas for the use of the technology also emerged from the experiments. Similar device that uses AR and simulation technology and plant modelling could be used in professional training of plant personnel. The users could walk around the plant and get information about different equipment and sub processes directly when at the site. We believe that this would make the theoretical learning, e.g. about the process, more concrete and would thus enhance learning. Acknowledgements. The authors would like to thank the personnel of M-Real, UPM Kymmene, and YIT Services who participated in the study. The authors would also like to thank the whole Plamos project team. References 1. Eclipse (2006) 2. ISO 13407:1999. Human-centred design processes for interactive systems. International standard. International Standardization Organization. Geneve 3. Mimosa (2006). OpenO&M, 4. Norros, L.: Acting Under Uncertainty. VTT Publications, Espoo (2004) 5. Reiman, T., Pia, O.: Kunnossapidon organisaatiokulttuuri.tapaustutkimus Olkiluodon ydinvoimalaitoksessa. Espoo, VTT Tuotteet ja tuotanto. 62 s. + liitt. 8 s. VTT Publications; 527 (2004) 6. OPC OPC Foundation,

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